My Apologies

Do we apologize too much?

Do we mean it when we do?  I sometimes wonder.  We all try to get ahead. Ahead of each other. We may not realize that. To get ahead, we mean to get ahead of you.  At what point, can we stop?

I no longer need to get ahead.  It’s not that I’m finished.  With anything. I’m still trying to reach my goals.   I’m just not competing with you. Anymore.

I used to know someone like that. He was  always trying to show he’s getting ahead. No stopping him. He wanted to leave a legacy.

He wanted to be all things to all people.  What is it you want to hear? He’d tell you. Be more aggressive. Be less aggressive.  No, of course not, that’s not what he meant.  Wait a minute, yes it was.  He flipped, then he flopped.

He got to the point where he wouldn’t talk to people if he thought they wouldn’t always agree with him. He was always hurt, because he was really a nice guy and couldn’t understand why people would have a different opinion.

Today a different day? Then today it’s a different tale.  He convinced himself he was loved. Then he was convinced everyone turned on him.  He ended up being true to no one. Least of all himself.  In a short time he could be depressed, happy, angry, sad.

And he would apologize. Constantly. It was as if he felt that if he did, then everyone he hurt, stepped on , would accept him better.

I once heard him say nothing ever hurt like… fill in the blank. It was always something beyond his control.  But he would always, always apologize.

After awhile, no one listened. Or cared. He eventually left his job.  Not sure where he was headed.  I think he got burned out.  He was already well into his thirties.

My take? Be true to the truth, the reality of each situation. Not just your version. Do what’s right, not just what is expected, or convenient or expedient.  Not always easy I admit.

Where is he now? I really don’t know. I haven’t seen him in awhile. I think he discovered he didn’t have to always get ahead to make a difference.

How did I know this guy?  He used to be me.



What Happened to your Generation?

With Your generation.
Not mine.

I grew up behind the love generation. Make love, not war. That generation.
Maybe it was my generation too.

We thought we would change the world.

I thought it was pretty cool. I was cool.
But what exactly happened. To you? To me?

The war I grew up with. Many thought was wrong.

War. Poverty. Environment. Ghettos. Prejudice. Government.
Don’t trust anyone.  Over 30 or older.

We were the generation that was going to change everything.
Looking back. Did we?

Did anything happen?
What changed?

Did anything get better? I’m not sure.
Maybe I’m a cynic.
Not much did.

It’s 2016.                                                                                                                                                          And we still are facing: War. Poverty. The Environment. Ghettos. Prejudice. The Government. Today, no one trusts or even likes the candidates running for President. Maybe LBJ and Nixon weren’t so bad after all.

We were right, right?  Even righteous.
Did we sell out?

Or did we just not know what would happen?
What little control we’d have.

Am I alone?

We wanted to change the world.
Did we?

Maybe we just needed to change ourselves.
One by one.

I knew hippies.
Now everyone claims to have been one.
Age related revisionism, no doubt.
I don’t know.
Maybe it’s just the time of the season.

Any advice for you? Not from me.
You’ll have to learn on your own.


Negotiations are all about ….

Not arguing, not fighting, nor one upmanship.

The better your relationship the easier the negotiation.
You may not get everything you’re after just because you’re on good terms with your adversary.
But believe me, the more adversarial you are, the less likely anything good will come of your efforts.

And after the contract is settled?
You still have to work with the other side, sometimes daily.
Administering the contract involves discussion, debate, often helping each other along the way.

I had to learn this the hard way but since then I’ve tried to practice this throughout my career.
Yet there are still times I have to reign myself in or I’ll engage someone from my own team who thinks the exact opposite.

The “Give no quarter, we will destroy them!” types.
Typically, they have little actual hands-on negotiating experience.
No, these folks believe everything is fair game, if the other side made a mistake, well it’s on them.
Not on me.

The problem with this mindset is at some level in every negotiation, someone away from the table has to approve of the deal. And they will most likely catch the mistake.
And if they don’t right away, well, when they do, trust going forward will be nonexistent.

And these “aggressive” types usually don’t understand the very basic reality of any negotiation.
In order to get what I want, I’ll also have to give something to you as well.

And, it doesn’t have to be an equal trade off, either.
But the other side has to be able to say to their team, their employer, “This is what we got for you.”

The definition of a successful negotiation is the one where both sides come away saying “We didn’t get everything we wanted but we got some of what we wanted to get.”

I’ve mentioned before how when I started out in labor relations, I wanted to impress my boss with my negotiating skills.
Or to be totally honest I wanted to take items away from this particular union, items my predecessor agreed to give them in the last contract.

In my view, I would look like a great negotiator and the union would soon know I was a force of one, someone to be taken very seriously.
Be careful what you ask for

I’ve seen “my” mistake repeated many times over the years.

Don’t get me wrong.
You do need to negotiate the best deal possible.
For your side.

You just don’t need to deceive or trick the other side though.
There were times over the years where we knew the other side made a mistake, a big mistake.

Maybe they didn’t understand our proposal, or did not take into account the cost or consequences they would face if they agreed to what we proposed.

At those times, you have to ask yourself, is it worth it?
Is the proposal you’ve made a serious one you have to have or a “jack” proposal?
Is it designed to back the other side down from one of their proposals or is it one that will cause them to be embarrassed with their team?

What would you do?

If you take advantage of their mistake maybe you’ll reap short term benefits.
But at what cost?
In my case, the union fired the negotiator and I spent some time re-earning their trust.
And my boss was less than pleased.
With me.

There was once an occasion where my side realized the union made a costly mistake.
But, we chose to not correct them on their misunderstanding. Not at all.
We accepted their proposal to us without comment.
Away from the table, we were all literally jumping for joy thinking how great we would look in our boss’s eyes.
What a coup we pulled!
Raises, promotions for us all!

Know what happened?

We never did reap our benefits.
No raise for me, no promotion either.
We never got our proposal in the end.
Calmer heads prevailed.
Calmer heads on their side.
They corrected their mistake.
And today?
They still don’t trust us.

For me?
Lesson learned.

Negotiations are all about



life is negotiable…

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